Action call over child poverty figures

More children in Northumberland are living in poverty than five years ago, according to new figures.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 11:10 am
Updated Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 8:43 am
Action call over child poverty

New data – after research carried out by Loughborough University for the End Child Poverty Coalition – show that 36.2% of children in the area were classed as growing up in poverty in 2019/20, once housing costs are taken into account.

That is almost ten per cent more than the 26.5% recorded in 2014/15.

The figures show that, in the North East, the figure is 37%.

The End Child Poverty Coalition - which includes charities, trade unions and faith groups - called on the Government to increase child benefits and said the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit in October should be revoked.

The coalition said 60% of median income for a family of one adult and one child, after housing costs, would be £223 a week in 2019/20, £280 for one adult and two children, or £400 for a family of two adults and two children.

The survey's data does not take into account the affects of the pandemic, which will be shown in next year's figures.

Coalition chair Anna Feuchtwang said: "The figures speak for themselves - the situation for children couldn't be starker.

"We all want to live in a society where children are supported to be the best they can be, but the reality is very different for too many."

Imran Hussain, director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, said: “These deeply worrying figures reveal the true extent of the hardship facing families across the North East, even before the pandemic hit.

“We are desperately concerned this generation of children have had their childhoods and life chances damaged and disrupted by poverty and the pandemic. "If the government truly wants to level up parts of the country hardest hit by poverty, they must scrap their plans to cut Universal Credit later this year.”

Amanda Bailey, director of the North East Child Poverty Commission, added: “This alarming new data really does demonstrate the scale of the challenge in the North East, which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic but we are still to hear how the post-Covid recovery and proposals to level up the country will address this growing child poverty crisis.

“The single most important step the Government could take is to commit to a clear plan - backed up with decisive action - to tackle child poverty.

“This must start by not going ahead with the planned cut to Universal Credit.”

The Government uses a different measure of child poverty and said between 2009/10 and 2019/20 absolute child poverty (after housing) fell from 28% (3.7million) to 25% (3.5million).

A spokesman said: "Latest figures show that the number of children in absolute poverty has fallen by 300,000 since 2010.

"We are committed to supporting families most in need, spending billions more on welfare and planning a long-term route out of poverty by protecting jobs through furlough and helping people find new work through our Plan for Jobs.

"We also introduced our £269million Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay warm and well-fed throughout the pandemic."